Breeding habitat diversity of medically important mosquitoes and the risk of spreading exotic species in the coastal area of Croatia.
Background and Purpose: Mosquitoes (Culicidae) are significant molestants and are also capable of transmitting diseases. The coastal regions of Croatia were endemic for malaria during the first half of the 20th century. Despite malaria eradication in the 1960s, mosquitoes capable of transmitting plasmodia are still a potential treat to man and animals in both rural and urban regions. The aim of this study was to obtain better insight into the composition and distribution of mosquito species, especially those of medical importance. Material and Methods: Mosquitoes were collected as larvae and reared in the laboratory. We also used CDC traps with dry ice as an attractant. Faunistic investigations from April to November each year from 2000 to 2004 showed the presence of 27 species in Dalmatia (part of the coastal area of Croatia). From Maslenica Bridge to Prevlaka, we observed more than 50 localities where mosquitoes were present. Results and Conclusions: Of the 27 species recorded, 10 were medically important: Anopheles messeae, A. maculipennis, A. sacchrovi, A. claviger, Culex pipiens, Ochlerotatus cantans, O. caspius caspius, O. detritus, Aedes vexans and Coquillettidia richiardii. Some of these species had played an important role as vectors of malaria in Dalmatia. Breeding sites were varied and included edges of lakes, marshes, ponds, flooded meadows, abandoned houses, rock-holes, containers and tyres. Water was mostly stagnant, sometimes rich in organic matter. Breeding sites could be either permanent or temporary, shaded or sunny, with fresh or brackish water: Of particular concern is the potential spread of exotic species, such as the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), a natural vector of dengue, several arboviruses (e.g. yellow fever and West Nile virus), and Dirofilaria immitis. This species has been introduced into Europe over the last two decades as a result of the maritime transport of tyres and was found in Croatia (Zagreb) for the first time a few months ago. The coastal area of Croatia is climatically suitable for the establishment of this species and continual monitoring is essential.